Thanks to Terry Seyden for this one!
I swear, sometimes our region has almost as much interpersonal drama as our neighbors to the north!
Noted environmentalist ticketed for timber sale violation
Kevin Woster Journal staff | Posted: Saturday, February 18, 2012 6:15 am
Brian Brademeyer is charged with painting over markings to trick Forest Service crews into cutting down trees.
Kevin Woster/Journal staff
A Black Hills environmentalist who for years has fought U.S. Forest Service timber-cutting projects is facing federal charges for changing marks on trees in a timber sale near his home so that more trees would be cut.
Brian Brademeyer, who lives on a small private acreage inside the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve southeast of Hill City, faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor citation served on Jan. 31. He is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy on March 15 in Rapid City.
Brademeyer admitted that he painted over marks on more than 20 pine trees on Forest Service land across the fence from his home in the summer of 2010. A Forest Service crew had marked the trees with orange paint so they would not be cut by a planned timber project. Brademeyer painted over the orange with black paint, hoping they would be cut as part of the Palmer Gulch timber sale. Despite that, he continues to oppose the Palmer Gulch sale, which is part of a larger forest management project in the Norbeck.
Cutting the additional trees near his home would have benefitted a meadow that has been encroached by pine trees over the past 50 years, he said.
“I had hoped there would never be a timber sale,” Brademeyer said. “But I wanted the meadow restored.”
He also admitted that fewer trees would have aesthetic value for him.
“Yeah, it would have enhanced my view. There’s no doubt about that,” he said.
Forest Service officials declined to discuss the case. And U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson said he couldn’t comment.
But former Forest Service spokesman Frank Carroll of Custer, who retired from the agency in January, said Brademeyer was serving “purely selfish reasons” when he used paint to alter the marks on the trees in a federal timber sale.
After arguing time and again against timber sales and their potential to benefit the forest and wildlife, Brademeyer obviously embraced the idea of judicious tree removal when it came to forest land near his home, Carroll said.
“We have to look at this action of Brian’s part in terms of a lifetime of opposition to forest management projects and cutting trees in the Black Hills,” Carroll said. “And for him to step in there and mark those trees for his own benefit is disingenuous and self-serving. It’s also really sad.”
Altering marks in a timber sale is a big deal, said Tom Troxel of Rapid City, director of the Black Hills Forest Resource Association, which represents the timber industry.
“There are lots of timber sales that our purchasers and loggers find problems on, things that we don’t like,” Troxel said. “But no way do we ever try to change the markings. That’s just something you don’t do. It’s illegal, and it would hang our purchasers and loggers out to dry if we did.”
Brademeyer said he had worked with the Forest Service about ways to regenerate the meadow and was left with the impression that officials were willing to cut more trees there. But he also admitted that it was a bad idea for him to change paint marks.
“It was probably stupid, but I didn’t think it was a large deal,” Brademeyer said. “It was stupid but not criminal.”
Yet the criminal charge is pending. It came more than 18 months after Brademeyer was asked in an email from Lynn Kolund, Hells Canyon District ranger in Custer, if he was responsible for the unauthorized re-marking that had been discovered by a Forest Service marking crew.
In the email, a copy of which was provided to the Journal by Brademeyer, Kolund discussed some larger trees near Brademeyer’s place that were marked to be saved for wildlife benefits.
“The wildlife biologist made decisions to leave some of the marked trees for use by bird species. These were some larger trees with more limbs,” Kolund said in the email to Brademeyer. “The crew ran out of paint to finish the job, and when they returned it looked like someone had used some black paint to mark more trees.
“I was curious; did you help us out and mark these trees?” Kolund asked.
In a return email, Brademeyer said he admitted the marking. Yet he wasn’t ticketed for the violation until just weeks ago. Kolund said he couldn’t talk about the case, but noted that Hell Canyon Ranger District crews were busy at that time on many projects, including the coming sales in the Norbeck.
When private timber crews entered the area recently, they found the suspicious-looking marks and reported it to the Forest Service. The citation followed.
In September of 2010, Friends of the Norbeck and the Native Ecosystems Council, two groups led by Brademeyer, challenged the planned Norbeck Wildlife Project in federal court. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken denied the groups’ request for a preliminary injunction in December of that year and allowed the first project in Norbeck to proceed.
In late January of 2011, Viken dismissed the suit. The environmental coalition appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed Viken’s ruling last fall.
Just last week the environmental groups decided to ask for a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the case. And Brademeyer admitted the citation against him played a role in that decision.
So I ‘ve been reading books on trust recently including right now Stephen M. Covey’s “Smart Trust.” He has a bunch of interviews he did for the book, you can google it, here’s a link to one.
It makes me think that we should maybe be careful about calling this person an “environmentalist.” One environmental organization can have QA/QC to some extent but the whole bunch of them can’t because there are no trust enforcement mechanisms. I think the Forest Service could potentially work on trust, but perhaps not “all federal employees”, if you see what I’m saying. That’s why I retitled the titled here as “human being” not “environmentalist.”